Jab Harry Met Sejal, putting it in plainspeak, is as exciting as its title. We see Gujarati girl Sejal (Anushka Sharma) hunting for her lost engagement ring all over Europe, with Harry (Shah Rukh Khan) for company. It’s an odd choice since he admits he looks at all women with a “gandi nazar”. For some reason, which only writer-director Imtiaz Ali can reveal, she finds this quality irresistible.
At the risk of revealing a spoiler, and yes you should take this as an alert, it is disconcerting to find that the lost item the protagonist is looking for, is found inside her…gulp… handbag.
This is a fantastic example of how men and women see things differently. A female director would have known that the first thing most women do when ANYTHING is lost, is check the handbag— that mysterious place that often functions like a Lost and Found department.
The film meanders on, and you realize that all the three brilliant talents – Imtiaz Ali, Shah Rukh Khan and Anushka Sharma are not in form. Ali has made a film that has echoes from his past ones; Khan is charming but his character sketch has way too many improbabilities; ditto Sharma’s character, despite the actress giving a very hearty, sprightly rendering.
The film makes one wonder where the good stories are. Either we're not coming up with good stories, or the good stories are not finding their way to the big studios, or the biggies are just not looking to move out of a comfort zone. Either way, one is stuck with yet another big-bucks backed extravaganza with A-list starts and all the resources except a solid story.
What you do get is a mixed bag of a few laughs, star power (the couple does look great), some cool songs, loads of casual sexism, straitjacketed accents/ dialect of Punjabis and Gujaratis, and clichés like the hero's fat best friend.
In trying to win our self-confessed womanizer Harry’s affections, it is alarming to see the female character willingly putting herself down by comparing herself to everyone from random women to a stripper, asking who is more "laayak" (deserving). Which means who is sexier basically and more capable of attracting Harry's romantic overtures. And she is out to prove she is “laayak" since he called her something like a porcelain vase and “clean and pure”. It's almost as if it's a detergent he's describing not a human being.
Imtiaz Ali’s recurring theme of the lost man and the right woman rescuing him from himself manifests here as well. As do his other staples like romance with drama, foreign locations, interesting songs and so on. This is probably his weakest film, though.
Perhaps the film is a warning bell for all creative minds to rethink, and not get stuck in a loop, much like Sejal and her ring.